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How Can I Balance My Career and Kids

Many people say that being a parent is the hardest job you will ever do.

And unfortunately, most people enter into the parent job with little or no training. They may go to birthing classes which will take them as far as how to change a nappy and bathe a baby, but that is usually where the "formal training" ends.

Imagine going into the biggest, most prestigious, PAID job of your career with little to no training other than reading a few blogs and flicking through a few books. Now imagine doing that on very little sleep and are trying to keep another full time job going. Would you do it? Would you expect to work two full time jobs and do them both well? Probably not. But many couples who become parents expect to both continue with their chosen careers and are surprised when they start to struggle either at work or as a parent or both.

Fifty or so years ago, it was the norm for mothers to stay at home and raise the children while fathers went out to work. Now, it is rare for mums to stay home and focus on raising their kids. Women are focusing more and more on their careers but many are struggling to give the same level of focus to their children, or don't realise how much of their time and attention their children need. For many mums, a large chunk of their 7 to 11 months of maternity leave is spent cramming in as many baby classes as possible before sending their babies off to childcare to be raised by somebody else for ten hours a day.

Some babies cope perfectly well with this, others don't. For the babies and toddlers who don't cope well, we see a variety of issues cropping up in their sleep and behaviour.

Babies usually form a natural and strong attachment to their parents and therefor need their parents' time, love and attention to feel secure. When they are separated from their parents for six to ten hours a day, they will try to get the time, love and attention whenever they can, which will be throughout the night and whenever they are in the presence of their parents. What this means is that they will have broken sleep, be difficult to put to bed and display demanding behaviour to get attention when they are awake.

This is all natural behaviour, demonstrating a natural need for love and attention. Some children need more than others which is why some seem to cope better in childcare than others. And some parents give their babies more focused attention when they are with them, meaning that those babies will feel more secure and appear more settled.

Having a baby, toddler or young child AND a demanding, full-time job becomes stressful and exhausting - as would having any two full-time jobs, but very few people would do that to themselves! And as a result of this stress, some parents find being a parent far more difficult than it should be. They also put far too high expectations on their children to sleep and behave in a way that will make parenting less stressful and allow them to do well in their chosen career. Unfortunately, babies and children are programmed to survive and are oblivious to their parents' needs and therefor behave in a way that will get them what they need to survive.

However, there is a solution - it's called balance.

If you give five out of seven days almost every week to your job, your baby is likely to feel short changed, and not get the love, time and attention they need to feel secure. If you were to give your full-time job only two days-a-week, you would probably get fired. As our children can't fire us, they get more and more demanding instead!

Here's that magic solution:

If you give your children enough of your love, time and attention, they will feel emotionally secure.

If they feel secure, they will respond well when you put boundaries in place about sleep and behaviour.

You will then find raising your children relatively easy and stress-free. (There will obviously be times when things aren't as easy, like when they are unwell or when there big changes in your lives.)

  1. Drop off as late as possible to childcare - ideally have breakfast with your little people before they go.

  2. Pick up as early as possible so that you get maximum time to hang out together before bed.

  3. Switch off all phones and screens when you're with your little one so that they get your attention even if you're doing household chores.

  4. Keep life simple so that you don't have to stress about organising things when you could be hanging out with your baby.

  5. Tell your boss to poke it if you think they're asking too much of you. Your children will be off being independent before you know it and you can suck up to your boss then!

But on a serious note - we usually choose to have our babies, they don't choose to be born, so we may need to make some sacrifices for them.

It's not meant to be easy - good luck!

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